When I Ride…

Why we mount a horse from the left…

Why what?.. about half of you just said. I know, who cares which side you get up on a horse? You may not have a horse!

Then just read for a little trivia. It won’t be the only trivial thing you read about today I can almost guarantee.

Now, where was I?

Well, I took someone riding the other day and her father was watching. Because he wanted to be helpful, he was adding this little bit and that little bit of information during the lesson and he told her…always get on from the left side. I smiled and added, Yes, that may be true in most cases but my horses are trained to stand still no matter which side a rider gets on or off.

Well, I learned to always get on the left side, he answered. Why is that?

Good question!  Let me look into it and I’ll get back with you. Now I was curious as well.

This is what I found out.

It started with those pesky knights in Medieval times. They are clanking around in their armor and they have these long swords hanging down on the left side to be drawn by the right hand. Now how are they going to get up on their trusty steed? For one, I can’t imagine mounting while wearing armor without using a mounting block but anyway…

The sword was worn on the left and not being one of those bending swords(?)…the knight bent his knee to put his foot into the stirrup, the sword hung straight down his side, then he swung his right leg over the horse’s back and settled his seat into the saddle. Mission accomplished! It became a tradition to mount that way and we still do it today even though we aren’t always wearing swords when we ride in the year 2011.

Because it has become a tradition, most horses are trained to be mounted from that side. Horses brains are not connected in the same way that a person’s brain is and a horse has to learn something from both sides. They see with one eye at a time from the side of their head and therefore, if a horse has seen something over and over on the left side, when it sees it on the right it’s like they have never seen it . So to err on the side of safety, riders are taught to mount from the left.

Personally, I train my horses to stand whenever mounted…period. What if the stirrup is broken on the left or you have hurt your left knee and can’t bend it? See?

Can you think of other things you do in your life because it’s just always been done that way but you don’t know why?


This entry was published on November 21, 2011 at 5:05 pm and is filed under horses. Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

5 thoughts on “Why we mount a horse from the left…

  1. That good to read your post, very interesting. But in addition in the photographies it is possible to estimate the great print of your horse, the sheen of his hair, good legs, with many class. Congratulations. You are the professional one ¡
    Adiós amiga…

  2. Love it! I think I’ve been told a few other reasons we mount from the left, but haven’t heard this one…I think I like it best.

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